The BirdLife South Africa National Rarities Committee (BLSANRC) is tasked with the evaluation of records of birds which would constitute national rarities anywhere in South Africa. The Committee is administered by BirdLife South Africa and made up of volunteer members who are considered experts in the identification of bird species.

If you wish to have a record declared a national rarity, in your private capacity or through SABAP2, a formal submission must be made to the BLSANRC. Details on how to submit a record can be found below. Submissions can either be made via WhatsApp or via this website.

How to submit a sighting of a National Rarity

Option 1: Submit via WhatsApp

We find ourselves in a modern, fast-paced world where technological advances have made it possible to instantly transfer information. The BLSANRC have therefore taken the decision to modernise the submissions and adjudications process for submitting rarities for adjudication by utilizing the instant messaging platform WhatsApp.

If you locate a potential national rarity please follow the following steps to submit your sighting for official adjudication by the BLSANRC:

  1. Locate a bird that may constitute a national rarity for South Africa.
  2. Capture as much information about this bird as you can either through photographs, video, audio recording and/or by taking descriptive notes of the species appearance and behaviour.
  3. Draft a WhatsApp message to 065-232-3634 following the format set out below.
  4. Once the BLSANRC has adjudicated your submission, the final decision will be posted under the adjudications section of this website, as well as on the SA Rare Birds Facebook Group, once every two weeks.

Required format for WhatsApp Submissions below:

  • Observer Name:
  • Species (if known):
  • Date/Time of sighting:
  • Location (name and GPS points if possible):
  • SABAP2 card number (which contains species for vetting):
  • Details about sighting:

Submitters have the option to include photographs/video/audio evidence with their submission and are encouraged to do so, however, in the absence of these supplementary files, a detailed description of the bird will still be considered.  

WhatsApp your sighting to 065-232-3634

Click option 1 for submission formatting guidelines

Option 2: Submit via Online Form

If you are not a WhatsApp user or would prefer to make your submission online, rarity submissions can be sent to the committee by completing the form below.

National Rarities Submission Form

  • Species Information

  • Common name of the bird seen
  • If you know the scientific name please enter it here
  • Observer Details

  • Sighting Details

    Please provide us with as much information about your sighting as possible to assist the NRC with their adjudication of this record
  • SABAP2 is the second Southern African Bird Atlas Project which has been ongoing since 2007. Find out more at http://sabap2.adu.org.za
  • What is the name of the farm dam, sewage works etc. where the sighting took place?
  • Please enter the decimal degree coordinates of the sighting if you have them here
  • Date Format: DD slash MM slash YYYY
  • What optical aids did you have with you during the sighting? P
  • Please select a score of 1-5 where 1 is good and 5 is poor
  • If it is felt that a description of the conditions in the days leading up to the sighting is relevant please also describe
  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, png.
    Please upload jpeg or png images of no more than 4MB. A maximum of 5 images per submission are allowed.
  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: mp3, mp4, wmv, wav, aiff, aac.
    Please upload any video or sound recordings of no more than 40MB that will assist the committee in adjudicating this record. Accepted file formats include mp3, mp4, wmv, wav, aiff, aac
  • Select appropriate option
  • Field description

  • Give as much detail about the appearance and behaviour of the bird as possible, eg. Plumage, soft part coloration, flight pattern, call, habitat, general impression of size and shape (GIZZ) etc. Please ensure that the description of the bird seen is based upon your own observation and not a description from a text book. If the bird was photographed it is particularly important that the photographs accompany this submission, regardless of their quality. Attach any notes written on the spot. Use sketches where relevant. It is important that your own field notes are used and not field guide descriptions. PLEASE NOTE THAT PHOTOGRAPHIC SUBMISSIONS WITHOUT A PROPER DESCRIPTION OF THE SIGHTING WILL PROBABLY NOT BE CONSIDERED.
  • What pontenially confusing species did you eliminate and why? (If not already dealt with above)
  • Sightings of birds at sea only

    Please only complete this section if the bird was observed while at sea
  • e.g. ski boat, large boat, from shore
  • e.g. no wind, light, moderate, strong, gale force
Option 3: Submit via email

If you are not a WhatsApp user and do not want to complete the online form, do not worry. The original rarities form can be downloaded below. Complete it and email it to rarities@birdlife.org.za. We will ensure that your submission reaches the BLSANRC for adjudication as quickly as possible. Please remember to attach any photographs, video or audio files that might assist with the adjudication process.

List of National Rarities for South Africa

National rarities are species which do not regularly occur or have never before been confirmed within the borders of South Africa. To download a list of species which have been recorded as National Rarities within South Africa click the button below.

National Rarities Committee Adjudications

Click the bar below to see a list of the recent final decisions on submissions made to the BirdLife South Africa National Rarities Committee.

Recent National Rarity Adjudications

National Rarities Committee Adjudications – September 2019 to January 2020
Species name Scientific name Observer’s name Locality Date of sighting Final Decision
Dove, European Turtle Streptopelia turtur Digby Cyrus Phinda NR 15/12/2014 Y
Egret, Slaty Egretta vinaceigula Sydney Zeederberg Finfoot Lake 25/09/2019 Y
Oystercatcher, Eurasian Haematopus ostralegus Elton Bartlett St Lucia 31/01/2019 Y
Palm-Thrush, Collared Cichladusa arquata Ross Hawkins Pafuri, Makuleke Contractual Park 03/02/2019 Y
Penguin, King Aptenodytes patagonicus Vince Ward Buffelsbaai 30/10/2019 Y
Penguin, King Aptenodytes patagonicus Estelle Smalberger Buffelsbaai 01/11/2019 Y
Penguin, King Aptenodytes patagonicus Garrett Skead Buffelsbaai 30/10/2019 Y
Pipit, Golden Tmetothylacus tenellus John Austin Madikwe Game Reserve 25/11/2019 Y
Tropicbird, Red-tailed Phaethon rubricauda Jorrie Jordaan Noordhoek Ski Club 09/11/2019 Y
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra Tobie Pretorius Ithala Game Reserve 03/01/2020 Y
Petrel, Bulwer’s Bulweria bulwerii VW Cape Point Pelagic 24/11/2019 MIR
Tern, Black-naped Sterna sumatrana FF Umlalazi Nature Reserve 02/07/2020 N
Tern, Black-naped Sterna sumatrana PV Umlalazi Nature Reserve 02/07/2019 N
WhatsApp Submissions
Egret, Slaty Egretta  vinaceigula Ernst Retief Gnu Valley, Gauteng 12/01/2020 Y
Wagtail, Citrine Motacilla citreola Kevin Nel Phongola Game Reserve 29/06/2019 Y